It is now quite some time since the leading bookmakers began to introduce a few gambling games onto their online sports gambling sites. Since then we have seen a massive expansion in what we now refer to as the online casino gambling sector, both in terms of the number of online casino sites and the number and range of gambling games we can play. There are now literally hundreds of different casino gambling games available online with new sites and more new games coming on stream every year. The vast majority of these new gambling games are of course different variations of slots games, but most online casino gambling sites also offer a full range of the more traditional casino games we would expect to find in a real casino. In Ireland of course our casinos were mostly quite small compared to those found in the rest of Europe and in America, so for many of us here the introduction of online casinos is the first time we have had access to some of these traditional casino games. Very few of us for instance have had the chance to play baccarat or craps here in Ireland. Backgammon is also a traditional gambling game which has never featured in any of our real casinos, but the real winner in terms of popularity resulting from the advent of online casino gambling has to be the game of poker. Although poker is of course a gambling game with a great deal of history, it has rarely been featured on a regular basis in our real casinos and playing poker had become almost a leisure activity confined to a few friends playing every week or every month in one of their houses. Since the introduction of online casinos however the number of people playing poker online has rocketed so that poker has quickly become one of the most popular of all the online gambling games we can now access on the internet. Many online casino gambling sites now feature poker tables where beginners can learn how to play the game for very small stakes, and of course there are now several specialised online poker platforms where serious poker fans can compete with other enthusiasts from all over the world. This massive increase in the popularity of the game of poker has caught many observers by surprise, particularly now that it has gone beyond simply being an online leisure activity. Almost every major poker tournament in the world is now oversubscribed as serious amateur poker players strive to try their luck against the professionals. Many of these tournaments now need to run qualifying rounds to establish who will have a seat at the main event such is the scale of interested parties wanting to play.
As we have already commented poker is not a new gambling game. It first came to prominence in America and was the game of choice among prospectors in the gold fields and among passengers on the Mississippi river boats. We have all seen the old westerns in which almost every saloon scene featured men playing 5-card draw poker. There are of course now several different versions of poker available online, and although most online casino gambling sites still feature 5-card draw poker it is no longer the game of choice for serious poker players. Almost all the big poker tournaments are now played using the Texas Hold’em format of poker rather than the simpler 5-card draw format, and Texas Hold’em is also the version of poker played on most of the specialised online poker platforms which have become so popular among serious poker enthusiasts. For those of our readers who may not have had the opportunity to play Texas Hold’em poker, the main difference is that players are able to access five community cards as well as their two hole cards when they are forming their showdown hand. We have detailed the rules of Texas Hold’em on our individual casino gambling games pages here at gambling.ie, but here is a quick introduction into how the game is played. Each player is first dealt two hole cards face down in front of them, and this is followed by the first betting round. When every remaining player has staked the same amount of money the first community card is dealt face up into the middle of the table, followed by another betting round. This same process is repeated until there are five community cards face up in the middle of the table. The final betting round then takes place and when every remaining player has gambled the same amount of money they each show the best 5 card poker hand they can form from their two hole cards and the five community cards and the winner takes the pot. The popularity of Texas Hold’em poker is generally considered to be based on the much bigger pots which result from the multiple betting rounds, and the fact that the hands are also likely to be better because each player can select from seven cards instead of just five. The attraction of big winning pots is clearly an important feature of the game, but a word of warning to new players thinking of playing Texas Hold’em poker, the amount of money which has to be committed to even reach the showdown stage is usually far more than the agreed minimum table stake. Texas Hold’em poker is of course not the only version of poker which is now available online. Most online casino gambling sites offer a wide variety of different versions of poker, most of which can also be played against the house for small stakes. New poker players would be well advised to spend some time learning the game by playing for fixed stakes against the house before joining one of the serious online poker platforms. Playing poker on the internet means that you do not know how experienced your opponents may be, and Texas Hold’em poker is certainly a game in which experience is usually a significant factor in who wins in the long run.